In The News

'Unexplained paradox' explained: Why flashy desert channels look the way they do

Stream channels in desert landscapes can lay bone-dry for weeks or months at a time before an erratic, volatile storm suddenly turns a reach into a raging torrent. But when the water recedes, the channel often looks like not much happened, with no sign of structures like point bars, cut banks, riffles and pools that one might expect to see if a stream with perennial flow suddenly lost its water. For scientists who study these landscapes, that's the " unexplained paradox ": Despite having the occasional hydraulics seemingly capable of building some complex streambed topography, desert channels tend to remain simple, smooth and straight. A new study published in the journal Geology is the first to explain what's going on.

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Microbes around sea floor methane seeps found sequestering greenhouse gas

A study published in Nature Communications shows that microbes living in carbonate rocks on the ocean floor are helping sequester a greenhouse gas, according to a release on the journal’s website . The microbial ecosystems thrive around methane seeps, where they consume methane and sulphate. Layers of carbonate around these seeps have often been regarded as lifeless, but the new research suggests that they are both a product of and home to countless microbes. These ecosystems have not been considered in models that examine greenhouse gas exchange in the ocean, says Samantha Joye, microbial geochemist at the University of Georgia. She says the findings could inspire reexamination of past research. Image: A methane seep offshore of Virginia.

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New amphibian chytrid fungus tests ease search for wide-ranging frog disease

Amphibian chytrid fungus is implicated in the drastic decline of amphibians across the world, but much about the disease it causes remains unknown. A new study presents a first step in understanding how the fungus persists in aquatic habitats before it takes up residence in frogs themselves. Scientists discovered the fungus and its effects in 1998 after frog populations were found declining in remote, protected areas where some of the usual threats to amphibians -- habitat loss and pollution -- didn't apply. The fungus has since been found killing frogs in Australia, the western U.S., South America and more places across the globe. Yet many aspects of the disease are still unexplained. For example, it infects some populations while others appear immune for reasons that aren't clear.

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